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Page last updated at 08:26 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 09:26 UK
Modern Nottinghamshire foresters face new challenges
Ranger Alex Morley
Alex Morley said in medieval times rangers would have been the bad guys

Modern day foresters working in what was Sherwood Forest say they still face challenges to protect the woodland.

In medieval times Bestwood Country Park was a enclosed deer park and foresters were on the frontline against outlaws.

Today, the park is situated near Nottingham's outer urban areas and has suffered from fly tipping, vandalism and arson attacks on their facilities.

Park rangers also have to prevent the theft of wood for home fires, poaching and mend erosion to the woodland paths.

After working with police, the team at Bestwood Country Park have, at least, managed to reduce the number of stolen cars being burned out in the woods.

But according to ranger Steve Dance, 43, it is still an occasional problem.

"You still get them," he said. "All we hope is that we can stop them from getting on to the park.

If a villager was getting his turnips eaten by the King's deer it was tough luck and if he did anything about it it was down to the foresters to punish him
Forest ranger Alex Morley

"If they're on the car park they are easy to get rid of. It's when they [drive] them into the middle of [the park] that it's a problem.

"They damage woodland and then we [cause] damage dragging them out."

However, the last thing Steve and the other rangers want is to shut law-abiding people out, unlike during the reign of King John in the middle ages.

Head ranger Alex Morley, 37, said their role has changed a lot since then.

"We would have been the bad guys," he joked.

"Forest law was pretty harsh. If a villager was getting his turnips eaten by the King's deer it was tough luck and if he did anything about it it was down to the foresters to punish him.

"That's not what we do nowadays. We provide steps so people can come into the woodland but if people want to poach or steal from us, then we don't particularly like that."

Somewhat of a minor problem, in comparison to anti-social behaviour, is the erosion of pathways.

Alex attributed a number of factors including the popularity of off-road cycling.

"It's not that we want to stop them but we can't see this [path] being eroded. So we're trying to control the erosion by building steps.

"One of the worst things that anybody managing a site can do is put up signs saying no. It's a case of hardening what's there so it can cope with the impact."

The rangers at Bestwood Country Park run voluntary sessions every Monday, except bank holidays, and the first Sunday of every month. Call 0115 9273674 for more details.


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